Malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure that can affect the lining of the lungs, stomach or heart. While there is not yet a cure for mesothelioma, researchers have made great progress in the exploration of mesothelioma causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  

Each year in the state of California, an average of 330 people are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms often mimic those of common illnesses. Diagnoses often come when there are few treatment options and a poor prognosis because victims are not diagnosed until advanced stages of the disease making diagnosis and treatment research vital.

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Mesothelioma Cause and Prevention Research

Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.  Asbestos, which was used widely in manufacturing during the twentieth century, is especially dangerous when it is released in the air. When these tiny fibers are inhaled or ingested they can become lodged in organ tissue causing scarring that may eventually lead to the development of mesothelioma cancer or other asbestos-related illnesses. The development of mesothelioma can take 10 to 60 years after exposure for symptoms to appear. Researchers are working towards developing preventions and treatments by determining exactly how asbestos fibers cause the cell mutations that lead to cancer.

Diagnosis Research

Like other forms of cancer, the earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the more treatment options are available.  Early detection is critical. Much of the current mesothelioma research being done is focused on the diagnosis of the disease, particularly on the identification of biomarkers. Biomarkers are molecules that can signal the presence of mesothelioma. The development of MESOMARK by Fujirebio Diagnostics is an exciting breakthrough in mesothelioma diagnosis. The MESOMARK blood test has been able to measure the mesothelin biomarker produced by mesothelioma cancer cells in a patient’s blood.

Treatment Research

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are currently the standard treatment options for mesothelioma and researchers continue to study the most effective methods and combinations of these treatments to combat mesothelioma. Promising results have been found in patients who have undergone Multimodal Therapies which combine these treatments in various ways.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials for mesothelioma are conducted to test the safety and effectiveness of new mesothelioma treatments after research is completed in the lab. Before new treatments can be recommended for regular use, clinical trials must be conducted in four phases.

Phase one clinical studies look to determine side effects, safe dosages and the best form of administration.

Phase two aims to determine the effectiveness of a treatment on specific cancers in a number of patients as well as any other affects the treatment may have.

Phase three compares the new treatment to current standard treatments in large test groups.

Phase four begins the FDA approval process after enough testing has been done to confirm that a new treatment method can improve prognosis. This phase may also include ongoing testing for safety and effectiveness.

Clinical trials can be designed for four different research purposes:

Treatment trials test new surgical procedures, drugs and vaccines.

Prevention trials study ways to reduce the risk of developing cancer in high risk, healthy individuals.

Screening trials study new or easier methods of early detection.

Quality of Life Trials study ways of improving the quality of life for cancer patients through palliative treatments.

You should discuss clinical trial options if you are interested in participating in one of these tests. Not everyone will be eligible to participate and the National Institute of Health provides a list of ongoing trials. If you wish to learn more about clinical trials, CLICK HERE to contact a mesothelioma specialist.